European Parliament's Transparency Obligations Imply Adopting Free Software and Open Standards

Paris, December 15th, 2014, press release.

The European Parliament's Greens/EFA group has just published a study entitled “Ensuring greater transparency — Free Software and Open Standards under the Rules of Procedures of the European Parliament”, which encourages the European Parliament to give priority to Free Software and Open Standards for all systems and data it uses for its work. April encourages the European Parliament to start immediately implementing internal policies in favour of Free Software and Open Standards.

The study explains that the European Parliament's transparency obligations should steer its decisions, policies and procedures towards Free Software and Open Standards. According to the news published by The Greens/EFA, the study suggests, in particular:

  • when Parliament implements communication infrastructure like email, the implementation should not impair standards-based access and should not restrict the use of mailing lists and encryption
  • when Parliament opens procurement procedures it should promote free software and open standards through proportionate and calibrated specifications as new EU rules allow for the taking into account of environmental and social considerations and innovation in the awarding of public contracts
  • when Parliament decides to make a given set of data or information available to the public, this must be done through non-discriminatory, transparent and up-to-date means of communication, and in open formats that support further analyses, uses and releases
  • when Parliament adopts free software and open standards it should follow and exceed measurable benchmarks that other public bodies in the EU have already provided
  • when Parliament can choose technologies that allow others to work with Parliament's own systems and data, such technologies should be privileged, even if they were to incur some extra costs

The authors of the study conclude that “the Rule of Procedure of the European Parliament should, whenever possible, make Free Software and Open Standards mandatory for all systems and data used for the work of Parliament”.

“Open Standards and Free Software share the same goals: to serve everyone and guarantee that users will keep control of their data, all the while ensuring the continuity of this data. When using closed or proprietary formats, public institutions favour the dominant position of certain companies. We therefore encourage the European Parliament, as well as any public institution, to prioritise Free Software and Open Standards”, said Frédéric Couchet, April's executive director.

It is high time that the European Parliament take action; back in 2008, already, some MPs published a written statement calling for Parliament to migrate to Free Software.